While in college, Utopia Labs’ co-founder Pryce Adade Yebesi was focused on making the greatest impact.
The 23-year-old almost chose a career in politics as he wanted to create change in underserved communities. However, he believed there was another medium where he could still make a difference.
Yebesi shared that he and his family moved around a lot when he was a kid, living in places such as Indiana, Virginia and California. So he saw people impoverished and struggling.
“A lot of the areas that my mom took us to were areas that were very impoverished,” Yebesi told AfroTech. “I saw that growing up and for a while I wanted to engage with politics in government, but I started to see that it wasn’t quite the avenue in which I wanted to make impact, and so I was interested in business and the potential things that I could build or make there.”
Yebesi would find his area of purpose to be in the fintech space. This was further affirmed after working as a summer intern under Square Co-founder Jim McKelvey in 2019.
“I learned so much about Square from my time working with Jim, and it was really impactful to me because what they did in a lot of ways democratized access to financial systems,” Yebesi detailed. “The Square card reader was such a simple tool. It could allow so many people from such a diverse array of backgrounds to finally be able to take credit cards to build their businesses in a way that was previously only available for bigger businesses. So, getting to hear that story, I think that also really sparked this sort of passion for how fintech can change lives. So, I was like, ‘I want to build something like Square one day.'”
Alongside co-founders Kaito Cunningham (CEO), Jason Chong, and Alexander Wu, Yebesi began to create the foundation of what would become Utopia Labs, a startup intersecting traditional financing and cryptocurrency.
In 2021, Yebesi dropped out of college to place his full attention toward the launch of Utopia Labs. He was only 21 years old at the time, but he was emboldened after witnessing the progress of the company’s seed round while still a junior in college.
Per TechCrunch, the company raised $1.5 million.
“When we closed, I wanted to do right by my co-founders,” he shared. “I wanted to do right by our investors who were taking a chance on young people, and I didn’t think I could do that without making a sacrifice. So, that’s what I made.”
Surrendering to his intuition has supported the dream of a better world that embraces a “new internet economy.” Utopia Labs is adhering to this by offering services such as crypto payments and crypto treasury management. According to its website it is “trusted by leading DAOs and crypto companies to streamline operations, manage payroll, and consolidate financial reporting.”
At the moment, the company works closely with decentralized autonomous organization (DAOs), but plans to build products that make crypto useful to everyone in the future.
“Our vision is to create a new internet economy. When value can pass so easily without so many middlemen and fragmented settlement systems, we have so many new opportunities to raise funds for causes people care about, start projects with people from all over the world that might end up being fantastic and powerful mechanisms for impact, but also can become billion-dollar companies,” Yebesi said. “Crypto enables so many interesting and novel ways of coordination and also just fixes so many of our fragmented value transfer systems and settlement systems across the world.”
Most recently the company integrated bank transfers of USD Coin (a fiat-collateralized stablecoin), which was supported by a Series A round in April 2022. The latest fintech service will improve payment rails in crypto to improve transactions between parties.
“Part of what our thesis is, if we can make easier rails between crypto and fiat, we can help more and more organizations utilize the cost-saving mechanisms and the faster settlement to improve their payment experiences,” Yebesi mentioned. “We want to build the tools that make it way easier and feasible for the organizations and later people to better leverage the benefits of crypto rails.”